Thursday, August 31, 2006

Carol-ing in August

Wednesday and Thursday were filled with lectures from Carol Childress and Carol Davis. They are with an agency that exists to help connect churches to resources and information. Carol Childress considers herself a "Missionary of Information" for the aid of the world missions. The website for her group is : I found some of her information useful, to one degree or another. Here is a sample of some of the things she said:
  • "The church is a spiritual organism but also a social organization. The thinking that got us where we are today will not take us where need to be tomorrow."

  • "“We tend to eternalize the culture and the tools. We make the assumption that if something worked before it always will.Â"

  • "“Effective ministry now and in the future will be done from a missional mindset. The culture today is much more like the first century than it is like the past 1000 years."

Below is Carol Davis. She has an interesting story as well. She is a consultant with churches. Her specialty is to help churches strategize in terms of coming up with specifics to attach to their vision statements. I am hoping some of the things she said will be relevant to the dissertation that I'm planning on doing (more on that in a later blog).

The two days have been okay. . . but we students are in a haze as a result of a week and half of sitting in this room for 8 hours a day listening to lectures (okay, I'm whining). Actually, I had some theological issues with some of the things that were said, too.

In particular, I didn't like what was said about the time of disorientation that follows change. Claiming to use the Israelites and the Exodus as her model, she said that the time of wandering in the desert was time God was using to "get Egypt out of them." I suspect the opposite is the case. I think God was using that time to get the experience of slavery (and being freed from slavery) into them. The reason it is important is that we are being told that we are entering a time of discontinuous change. It is accompanied by the idea that the church can use very little of the past if she is to move forward faithfully. I'm dubious about that.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Theology of Ministry class comes to a close

This week Nolan has led our time of worship in our Theology of Ministry class. Nolan, like Scott before him, has done a good job. In this class we have had morning sessions with a devotional quality, ending with song and prayer and (today) communion.I have enjoyed Dr. Seamands' class. He has imparted some real gems to the class. He seems to be more interested in the church than in the academy. I suspect that has made it difficult to be a professor at times. Below you will find some of the things I have appreciated from class.
  • Ministry is the ministry of Christ, to the Father, by the power of the Holy Spirit. He contends that we don't just minister through the example of Christ, we continue (in the church) the actual ministry of Christ.
  • To the Father. He makes the point that in John 5, when Jesus healed the man at the pool, he was responding to the call of the Father--not the crowd and not the religious people. If Jesus had let the crowd be the motivation behind healing, he would have healed everyone there. Because it was the Sabbath, if he had listened to the religious people, nobody would have been healed.
  • By the power of the Holy Spirit. Dr. Seamands is fully committed to the importance of the Holy Spirit to be the animator of real ministry through our weaknesses--not in spite of them.

Monday, August 28, 2006

A Fun Sunday

On Sunday morning we went to Wilmore Free Methodist Church (as opposed to the Wilmore Enslaved Methodist Church, I suppose). We arrived late because I decided at the last minute--or several minutes after the last minute--that this Sunday would be a good one to try this church. It was a good church. The people seemed nice. The service and the sermon were good. . .but I suspect it's not the one we'll attend this year.After the service I dropped the family back home and scurried off to the Greek Orthodox Church in Nicholasville, St. Athanasius. I needed to go because I have to visit a "cross-cultural" worship service before my Anthropology for the American Church class. This is the first strip mall Orthodox Church I've ever seen.
The service was the full icons-and-smells. I enjoyed it very much, despite having no idea what was coming next. The children roamed the sanctuary and crossed themselves at what seemed like the right time. People sort of milled around at times and I was never sure if I should be standing or sitting (there was no clear consensus to be gained from looking around).

Communion was interesting. I wasn't, of course, invited to partake. However, several people brought me bread. I wasn't sure if I should eat it, but I was sure I couldn't throw it away.
After lunch the whole family went to Lexington for miniature golf at the ice-skating-miniature-golf place. It didn't look promising.
When we saw the barbed-wire fence around the golfing area, we grew even more hesitant.
The "dolls from around the world" exhibit wasn't one I would drag to the Antique Road Show.
There were three 18-hole courses with the following themes: The Old Testament, The New Testament, and Miracles! I kid you not. We chose the Miracles course.
This hole was the "Crossing of the Red Sea." If you look closely you can see that there is water on both side of this hole.
This hole was called the "Empty Tomb." I'm pretty sure Bible-themed miniature golf courses were part of God's plan. I think we are living in the "Putt-Putt" dispensation!
It was a fun afternoon, goofy golf course and all.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Meg and the Marching Band

Tonight was the West Jess High School Marching Band debut--and Meg's first time to perform with a marching band. They did a fantastic job. I embarrassed her early and often by taking pictures. This is a picture of Meg with her friend, Marian.Here is Meg on the field for the half-time show. The school gave her their smallest uniform, but it is still pretty baggy on her (tonight was the first time I've seen Meg in a uniform).
Meg (and all of the flute players) had to do a little "interpretive dance" thing as part of the show. I'm proud of her. That's not the kind of thing she likes to do. I should be even more proud of the boy flute player who had to do the interpretive dance thing. When I was growing up that would have been grounds to quit band. My dad would even have spared me speeches about "finishing what you start."
The football team left a little to be desired (okay, A LOT to be desired). West Jessamine High School is the team in red. They were beaten early and often tonight. It was bad enough that I felt sorry for them, BUT .......SCORE, SCORE, SCORE!

Alas, it's a little too little. It's a little too late. Other than the final score, it was a good night!

A Busy Week

This past Sunday Cindy, the girls, and I went to a local Disciples of Christ congregation. The people there were a warm bunch and we were welcomed nicely (it sure makes a difference when people greet you!). There was no real sermon, though, because a seminarian from Lexington Theological had come home from a trip to Bosnia and shared his experience with the congregation. I'll stop writing about that now. On Monday the Beeson Pastors had class with Dr. Stacy Minger. Stacy is a graduate of the Beeson Program who went on to get her PhD in communications. She spoke to us on issues important to preaching.

She also talked about some of the issues we will face with our dissertations. She was helpful.On Wednesday we began our Theology of Ministry class with Dr. Stephen Seamands. Dr. Seamands began life in India as the child of a missionary and then finished growing up here in Wilmore as the son of a preacher man. The class has been very good. Dr. Seamands is a pastor at heart and his class is oriented toward the practical.

Below you can see a picture of Jim . . . he is aglow with knowledge.Scott led us in worship this week. He picks good songs that I don't know.
We meet from 8:30-4:30 every day and we discuss the nature of God and how the nature of God should undergird the manner in which we minister.
Kent writes it all down and then emails the results of our discussion to God.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Fun Things

I had to stop and take this picture. I'm not sure what to make of a moving sale at a grave yard. Is this a sign of the resurrection to come? Can I get a deal on a used coffin? Should I worry?
Last week I took the girls out for ice cream, one at a time. It was a great idea. Not only did I get to spend one-on-one time with each of my lovely daughters, but I also got to have Bruster's Ice Cream THREE nights in a row. Cora and I talked about some cool stuff, stuff like "Does God put names in expectant mother's heads?" At least I had some scripture for that one!

Anna and I shared a pecan Blast (it's like Dairy Queen's Blizzard). Great stuff! Bruster's makes their ice cream fresh every morning. We got a late start, so we had to eat our ice cream at brain freeze speed.
Meghan and I shared a brownie/ice cream/fudge thing. While we were eating the ice cream a woman with children came to the window next to us to order.
"Do you have chocolate, marshmallow ice cream today?" She asked, hopefully.
"No, I'm sorry. Not today." The teenager responded with a polite smile.
"Can I get a comment card, please." The woman didn't make it sound like a question.
Her husband then ordered for himself and for their two daughters, adding (to his wife), "Do you want anything?"
"NO." She said.
After the husband and the daughters got their ice cream, they all went around the corner. After about five minutes she came back to the window, knocked on it and said, tersely, "Can you give me the phone number of this place. Please."
They have FORTY FLAVORS at this place--made fresh daily, and she was apoplectic because she couldn't get chocolate marshmallow (I'm thinking she wouldn't make a great missionary to Africa--then again, I don't have much room to talk, she probably didn't have ice cream THREE days in a row).

Monday, August 21, 2006

Books for our Theology of Ministry Class

Well, my book reports are becoming less in-depth. Time constraints demand a more economical system of reporting! Our next full class begins Wednesday and our 12 page paper is due on the first day of class. The books you see below are the books we read for our 12 pager. I've listed them in order of provocative (or evocative) interest.

The Other Six Days is an excellent book. Most of us from the Stone-Campbell tradition will resonate with the call to recognize that scripture does not endorse any sort of clergy/laity distinction. This book is a call for the church to take seriously the priesthood of all believers--something I hope to a better job of supporting when I return to Grandview.

Some of my favorite quotes:
  • On the role of Trinitarian identity: "Churches and denominations tend to form around one of the three: Father-denominations emphasize reverent worship and stewardship. Son-denominations stress discipleship and evangelism thus furthering the work of the Kingdom of God. Spirit-denominations promote gifts and grace."
  • A quote I identified with: "Within evangelical Christianity there is a 'guidance-mania'--the fear of not being 'in the centre of God's will'. With a poor sense of God's purpose and a low sense of the civil vocation Christians today tend to focus on personal ministry and evangelism as the only true expressions of the called life."
  • "It is the clear teaching of the New Testament that the Spirit is poured out on the entire people of God for ethical living and neighborly service, not primarily for ecstatic experiences."
  • "Queen Elizabeth reigns but she does not rule. And many so-called Christians defer to the position of God as supreme ruler, but in actuality do not respond as subjects."

The Shaping of Things to Come
is a great and frustrating book. It calls for the church to embrace a new paradigm, one that rejects the old world Christendom (the belief that our culture is Christian and that the church will enjoy the benefits of being the "Big Dog" on the cultural scene). While the authors are right when they point out that Christendom is over and never lived up to the hopes the church had for it, they call for the church to abandon too much of her past (in my opinion). They don't allow for the possibility of the new paradigm, which they call "missional church" to exist alongside the old paradigm, which they call "attractional."

Interestingly, this is the very question the Grandview elders wrestled with during the last elders' retreat. We have much more thinking to do on this topic!

My favorite part of this book is its call for the recovery of a "Messianic Spirituality." Some good quotes:

  • "Not many in Christendom articulated a robust life-affirming spirituality of engagement."
  • "One of the great strengths of the Jewish people throughout history has been their sheer love of life. L'chaim (to life!)"
  • "Passion is only evil when it remains in the directionless state, when it refuses to be subject to holy direction, when it will not accept the direction that leads toward God."

Ministry in the Image of God: I've already reviewed this book. Just look earlier in my blogging if you're interested!

Wounds That Heal: This book, written by Dr. Seamands, is the kind of book you read with an eye toward your own baggage. We all minister best out of our brokenness. Enjoy!

Come, Creator Spirit: Cantalamessa is the priest to the Pope . . . and is rumored to be visiting our class in the Spring. This book is based on the Roman Catholic hymn, Veni Creator, and inspirations one my get on the Holy Spirit when studying the hymn.

Pastor: I love William Willimon . . . but this book is the opposite of the priesthood of all believers. This book is about the priesthood of all pastors. "Lay people" need not apply when it comes to handling the sacred life of the church. I suspect Dr. Seamands (our instructor) stuck this one on our list in the interest of equal time and counterpoint considerations.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Churches Birthing Churches

Today (Thursday) our special guest lecturer is Dr. Richard Hunter. Richard is a United Methodist pastor from the Atlanta area. He is currently serving the Methodist Church in Snellville, Georgia. He stepped out of the field in order to share with us the method of "birthing" churches that he has been a part of developing for his area.This particular process was conceived (if I may continue the metaphor) while he was serving Hillside United Methodist Church. This church had outgrown its facilities but did not want to leave its location. Also, to enlarge the building would have brought their ministries into conflict with the surrounding area.
They began birthing churches using some of the methods he has been sharing with us today (I'm at lunch right now). I suspect our time after lunch will be just as good.

This stuff isn't altogether new to those of us in the Christian church. I remember my grandparents committing to Kingsway Christian Church (which meant leaving Chapel Rock Christian Church). However, as with anything, you can learn a lot by listening to someone who is doing it presently.
The Hillside Church has now birthed four congregations. He says that within six months of birthing their first church they found that they replaced the members who were sent (numerically, not relationally).

While he was speaking, I grew homesick for Grandview so I "Google Earthed" it. If you haven't done that, try it. If you look closely at the satellite shot of Grandview's building you can see the church van and , in the corner of the parking lot, I'm pretty sure that's Carla McKinney's car!

4 C'ing the Future

Welcome to the Friday Forum (moved to Wednesday this week). Randy shared with us the need for intentional processes of developing discipleship programs within the church. One of the keys of any discipleship process is to have a constant "starting over." He used a cute name for his process. His cute name is 4 C'ing the Future. The C's include: Called, Connected, Committed, Commissioned. The key is that once you are "commissioned" or sent into new areas of ministry you revisit your calling. The idea is simply that we are never finished with the process of discipleship.The forum was a reminder that it is important for us, at Grandview, to be more intentional about discipleship (even if we don't give it a cute name). I haven't done that well!

Visiting the forum was Lee. Lee used to be a Beeson Pastor and has now returned to Asbury as Director of Alumni and Church Relations.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The First Day of School

The first day of school arrived suddenly on Tuesday morning! Anna and Cora actually leave before Meghan does--that's why Meghan is smiling in this picture.
With good ol' Mountain View Elementary in the rear view mirror, Anna and Cora march toward Wilmore Elementary School.Our neighbors, the Layers, beat us out the door. The shine from their front door is simply Kate's joy at being able to have a little more breathing room during the day.

Jack and Wendy Connell forced Jonathan to the curb.Michael smiles because he has such a good big brother to protect him at school.

There was a party at the bus stop!

These kids must be famous. Everybody is snapping photos as they board the bus.The good news is that all three came home encouraged about the schools they are attending. That means we cleared a major hurdle today. The hardest part about moving was uprooting the girls from places and people they love.